Last month, Badger Mining Corporation (BMC) completed its 17th year as a company sponsor of the DNR annual deer gun hunt for people with disabilities, and on Thursday, Nov. 2, was honored to be recognized as a Hometown Hero by the Wisconsin State Assembly for its continued support of the hunting program.

Nominated for the award by Representative Joan Ballweg, the Hometown Hero program “seeks to identify and recognize individuals from around the state who give of themselves to make a difference in our communities and in the lives of those around them.”

Tiffany Thoma, BMC environmental team leader, who has been involved with the special hunt since its inception at BMC, accepted the award on BMC’s behalf.

“What an honor it is,” said Thoma in her remarks to the State Assembly. “In the opening prayer, [we were reminded] to be thankful, gracious, forgiving and kind – I think we have all learned that being a part of this [program] and giving back to everyone we have touched [through this hunt].”

The WDNR began the special hunt in 1990 in order to provide hunting opportunities for individuals with certain disabilities at a time of year when temperatures are generally milder and mobility in the woods and fields is easier. Badger Mining began participating in the program in 2001 for one of its now-retired associates who was injured in a swimming accident decades before.

Originally taking place only at BMC’s St. Marie property in Green Lake County, which is a reclaimed sand mine, the hunt has since expanded to include BMC’s Fairwater property in Green Lake and Fond du Lac counties in 2006, its Taylor property in Jackson and Trempealeau counties in 2008 and its Merrillan property in Jackson County this year.

Throughout the four properties, BMC accommodated 16 hunters this year, 12 of which were new and four that were returning. The hunters ranged in age from 17 to 70 years old, and came from every corner of the state of Wisconsin to participate.

For many of the hunters, getting out into the woods and fields to experience a deer hunt, whether it was the first time or returning after many years away, is an opportunity that truly resonates with them.

As one first-time hunter with BMC said, “The experience will last a lifetime.” Another hunter, even though he unfortunately was not able to get a deer during his time sitting out, still said, “It was the most fun hunting, ever.”

While many of the hunters are grateful for the chance to hunt again, the BMC associates that volunteer their time to help guide these hunters receive so much from the experience as well. As one first-time BMC guide said after helping, “Thank you for allowing me to help with the hunters. It has truly been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done!”

These reactions make it easy for BMC to continue to participate in the hunt each year. Through this program, Badger Mining has touched the lives of 96 different individuals over the last 17 years, with the deer always being a bonus.

“Each of the participants holds a special place in our hearts,” said Thoma. “Deer or no deer, all come out of the hunt with smiles, new friendships and memories that last a lifetime. For these reasons, we can’t wait for the 2018 hunt and many more after that.”

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